Healing With Words---the Best Medicine

Sunday, September 27, 2009
I was recently asked to review a manuscript for a soon-to-be-published book and write a blurb for the cover. The book was about one woman’s battle with breast cancer. The soon-to-be published manuscript isn’t your run-of-the-mill memoir. Of course, the author went into some depth about her illness and treatments but she used poetry and journal entries to tell her story. Admittedly, I’m not the most poetic person and I often miss the message in certain styles of poems, but I found this author’s approach so beautiful. Some of these poems she’d written during her chemo, others she wrote during her check-ups, and others still she wrote when she wondered whether she should give up. Writing was a release for her—a way to fight back even when her body wasn’t strong enough to.

Another woman I know who turns to writing as a way to cope with her stress and deep-set emotions is Jennie Linthorst. Jennie’s husband, Erik, directed a movie called “Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story,” which is a documentary about one family’s journey to getting the right diagnosis and treatment for their son Graham. The movie was how Erik dealt with his frustration and determination while writing poetry was Jennie’s. I remember watching the scenes of Jennie sharing some of her poetry in the documentary and being brought to tears. I related to her pain and thought, “Wow! How phenomenal of her to reach out through writing.” Not only does Jennie write poetry, she also inspires other mothers of special needs children to tap into their own creative side by teaching them to write poetry too.

The amazing thing is that both of these phenomenal women tapped into the part of their soul a lot of people don’t usually turn to when going through tragedy—the part that gives us renewed energy, that keeps us away from maladaptive ways of coping and gives us the strength to keep fighting…to keep living. It’s the part that reminds us of who we really are apart from the ugliness we’re fighting or the tough times that life throws at us.

You don’t have to be going through painful times to keep a journal or to write down your thoughts. Life is filled with many adventures that nobody else experiences the way you do. Why not write them down, even if it’s only for you to read. And like with the brave women above and so many like them, healing through words has always been the best medicine for me.

(Be sure to check out the amazing authors currently on WOW! Book Blog Tours. These are other fantastic examples of using words to heal.)



Anica Lewis said...

Very true. As many interviewers loved to relate, J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book during a miserable time in her life, when she was a single mother in poverty.

This is also true for simpler or less intense stress or unhappiness. For me, writing provides not only a feeling of accomplishment, but an immediate change of mental surroundings, much like that provided by escapist reading. It's wonderful in that it addresses both fronts: what you're focused on right now, and how you feel overall. It gives you a creative, positive immediate focus, then leaves you with a feeling of success and a sense of having expressed yourself.

GunDiva said...

Thank you for a great post. It's nice to have a reminder that we don't all have to be "important" people to write about our daily lives. Even if the only people who read it are family members long after we're gone, it's always a fascinating glimpse into our daily lives. Kinda like snooping in a diary :)

Chynna said...

Thanks to both of you for your awesome comments. I had no idea about R.K. Rowling, Anica!

And you are so right GunDiva. You don't have to be "important" to write about what goes on in your daily life. Because each of us has a unique perspective of things, you'll always have a story that will appeal to someone. =) (I liked your 'snooping in a diary' phrase. =D)


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